This is a great plan to cool meat, but as we all know dark and moist = mold & bacteria.
My question is simple does anyone have any idea how long you can keep meat like this? Ignore spoilage due to temperature. I am talking about spoilage do to dark and moisture - no water from creek gets in but meat will be damp and not drying in a plastic bag.
I would think pulling it out every other day to dry and get light (cool time of day) might make this last.
Can you keep meat like this for a week?
Last year I suspened meat on branches just over a creek and it worked but I doubt it would have worked for a long time.
COOLING THE MEAT
COOL THE MEAT QUICKLY IN WATER: In the field, you want to cool your meat quickly because the sooner the meat is cool, the better the meat will be. You should bleed, gut and skin your animal as soon as you can. Next, you need to reduce the temperature of the meat. If you are near a stream or lake, you can submerge the quarters to bring the temperature down. Do not cool completely in water. Retain enough heat to dry the meat when it comes out of the water. For water cooling, I carry a sheet of plastic "visquine" and spread it out in a lake or stream. Once the animal is quartered, I lay the meat on the visquine and let it cool for twenty-five minutes to an hour (depending on the mass of the meat).
Advertisement WHY WATER COOL YOUR MEAT? A bath in a stream or lake speeds the cooling process and bleaches out excess blood that feed bacteria and attracts flies. Alaska game animals have a very large meat mass. Consequently, it takes a long time for the meat to cool down. The cold water temperature of the lakes and streams in Alaska help expedite the cooling process.
WATER COOLING CONCERNS: (1). I've been told by several hunters that you should avoid getting meat wet. This is partially true; you don't want to leave meat wet. This is why you retain enough heat in the meat to cause drying once you remove it from the water (also see air drying for procedures to remove excess water). (2). I've also heard concerns about Giardia in the water getting into the meat. While I can't guarantee the purity of the water or possible transfer of bacteria to your meat, I can say that I have never heard of anyone getting sick from water cooled meat, and I talk with a lot of hunters. The decision is yours based upon the conditions at your location, cleanliness of water and outside temperature. Tests have also been done in Canada by Bailight, which show the strong acid in citric acid should take care of Giardia and will also help kill types of bacteria.
AIR DRYING/STORING MEAT IN THE FIELD
AFTER WATER COOLING: After you have brought the temperature of the meat down, you're ready to begin air drying. If you are near water, there is normally a gentle breeze at all times. Hang the meat in such a way as to take advantage of this air movement. Protect the meat from the warm sun with some sort of shelter. I bring a light weight tarp for this purpose
REMOVE EXCESS MOISTURE: Once the meat is hung under the tarp, run your hands down it to squeeze out and remove any excess moisture.
APPLY LEMON JUICE MIXTURE OR CITRIC ACID: Lightly coat the meat with a lemon juice mixture (see game bags). This will create a high acid protective glaze over the meat while it is drying.
PLACE IN GAME BAGS: When the meat is dry, it's ready to place in the game bags and rehang.
While I respect the hell out of you, that sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. If I kill an elk it is to important to me to expirement on cooling options. That entire process goes against verything we have ever been taught about meat care. Besides, where we hunt the evening air temps are cooler than the water anyway.
This bull was in the water for 3 hours, no problem at all with meat. No bacteria issues or spoilage to say the least!
I would think you would want it dry before you put it in a gamebag so the bag stays as dry as possible as well-
Sometimes what we may've been "taught" could be nothing more than wive's tales. As in the tales which once caused guys to slash open the neck on a carcass to "bleed him out". Or to remove tarsal glands and gonads to keep from "spoiling the whole animal". Those falsehoods were dismissed as hunters became more open-minded and more knowledgeable.
Some wive's tales still persist however. One I'll cite is: "Meat needs to breathe". Sure, if you have chosen to use air to cool your meat, such as by hanging your quarters in trees in game bags, then yes air circulation will get that specific job done. It's called convection. But once the meat temp has cooled below 40 degrees or so, air flow across it's surface is no longer desirable. Once that temp range is reached, I can feel free to place meat inside plastic bags, squeeze all the air out, and dunk 'em in a 35-40 degree creek if one is nearby, or preferably, on ice.
Myself, I like to get meat on ice ASAP, rather than leaving it in a shady creek for more than a day or so. That way I don't have to worry about a bear or other critter finding it. Once on ice, it's good a week to ten days before freezing becomes necessary.
When faced with conditions where meat spoilage is a real factor to deal with the water thing is an option to consider. Hanging meat to cool is another. The key is getting the meat cooled down & in bags. If the water method is needed, do it, don't chance it. If not, great! Be prepared mentally & physically to do what is necessary not to lose any meat!
Back to the question at hand: your meat should not be moist per se once it goes into the game bag and then into a garbage bag. Dark or not, the lack of moisture coupled with cool temperatures will inhibit bacterial growth.
Anything recommended by someone telling you to "bleed" an animal is automatically suspect!
In my experience, anywhere the air is too warm to hang a critter, at least at night, will also have water too warm for cooling meat.
I have packed hogs in ice in really hot weather with good results. It should work with any game.
Matt, How do you let it dry skin over and keep the flies at bay? Is this where the vinegar or citrus spray comes in?
Having said that, I do not put myself in a position where I have to store the meat for multiple days before getting it on ice either.
1 hr. photo session.
Bone out elk gutless method.
Divvy meat into 4 Alaska game bags as it comes off.
Hang bags in cool shaded spot.
Pack game bags back to base camp in as many trips as required to again hang in cool shaded spot.
After meat is completely cooled, transfer to plastic bags and store in cooler on ice.
Does this sound reasonable?
Except maybe in the case when I'm solo, without pack animals, and 5-8 miles from the truck. If there happens to be an ice-cold stream at camp, and I can't haul it all out in one day, I'd use the stream for a day. Temp is more stable in the water than the air.
But I want it on ice ASAP.
After a couple of days we got to Anchorage and we deboned the meat in a hotel parking garage, put it in meat boxes (70 lbs. limit) and froze the meat overnight. We got it home and I cut it up and when I took burger meat to the butcher to to mixed with fat he smelled it and was surprized that it was in such good shape. He said that most meat coming back has already spoiled.
Well, the process worked for us.
I would think that as long as your cooking the meat prior to eating it, you wouldn't have an issue.
Can't say...the bears have never let us keep it this way over 24 hours.
Generally throw the canvas meat bag in the stream for a couple hours then hang in the shade until we can get it out. Cools just like an old canvas radiator bag.
Under the right circumstances I think this is a great option. Good input, thanks.
Normally I bone out, stuff in AK game bags and hang in cool place but cold creeks can help if it is warmer.
Good idea about using it only a while to cool initially.
If you put the meat in a plastic bag, it will not get wet. So look at it this way. How long will meat keep in a refridgerator? It is dark and cold in the fridg also.
Personally, I see nothing wrong with your idea. But I would drain the blood off every so often. But it should be fine for a couple of days and that should be plenty long enough to get the meat off the mountain.
Most garbage bags are made of “recycled resin”. They are not rated as food grade”. Stay away from black, brown or gray bags. Use white or translucent trash bags, they are almost always made of new virgin resin, i.e. “food grade”.
Depending on a lot of things, but many mountain streams are 35% to 40%, the same as the average refrigerator. If you hang the meat to dry and start cooling, then double bag, I suspect it would keep for days.
Seriously guys, keep the tips coming, this is a great topic and we can all learn from each other!
Many times it is 60-80 during the day, sunny, nothing compares to the ice cold mountain streams. I am not sure what temps they are but I know my feet go numb within 2 minutes trying to wade them with boots and socks off. Very hard to wade with numb feet!
I think this is a great plan for cooling moose in Ak too. Future plans.
Even if you don't put the meat in the water un-wrapped, it seems putting the meat in plastic bag and cooling in the creek for an hour would tremendously speed the cooling process. Plus make the meat more "managable". Cool meat is easier to work with so drying and bagging would just plain be easier after it's cooled in the stream for a bit.
Somthing new everyday...
Just to clarify, it's not just that the temp of water is more stable than air, as said above it has a higher "heat capacity" which means it cools a warm mass exposed to it much more at a given temperature. That's why a day with 40 degree day is brisk, whereas a 40 degree river is death sentence in just a few minutes. In practical terms water will suck your body heat (or an elks) much MUCH MUCH faster than air even at exactly the same temp.
Something to consider: lots of medium sized bags (versus a few big ones) will get you more water to meat contact and also minimize the risk, if any of leaks.
There are a few hand-pump vacuum sealers on the market now. What if you debone your meat and seal it up in large bags and submerge it in water to keep cool? It might be a little more weight packing in, but not substantial to take a roll of bags and the hand pump.
Anybody tried spraying meat with PAM cooking spray to keep off the yellowjackets etc? Our local meatpacker recommends it but I have not tried it yet.
Haven't tried it (like you, I'm interested to know more).
If no one else speaks up, I've certainly heard that sprinkling the meat with Black pepper is a very popular and effective way to keep yellow jackets at bay.
Don't do that, If you are going to vacuum seal it, it needs to be frozen right away, the lack of air will promote the growth of the bacteria that causes botulism. The same holds true for thawing meat that has been vacuum sealed, you neead to cut an opening in the bag to allow air in while it thaws.
The point of using PAM, black pepper, Thermacell, etc is not just to keep away yellowjackets, but also flies etc which do lay eggs in the meat.
Good to hear you've never been stung by a yellowjacket. I have, many times, and it is not pleasant.
"Wet aging occurs when meat and its own juices are vacuum packed in plastic and boxed for distribution. Because the plastic packaging does not allow loss of moisture, the meat may absorb more moisture which results in an increase in juiciness and tenderness. Both methods of aging work well and can create a better product. The difference is that dry aging gives a more distinctive flavor while wet aging is much less costly and allows for a quicker entry to the market and therefore a much longer shelf-life."
Almost all the meat you eat in a restaurant is wet aged.
They are able to keep the temps below 40* consistently. You are taking a big risk attempting to do that in the field.
I would use the heavy duty construction garbage bags.